Allies in Transparency? Parliamentary, Judicial and Administrative Interplays in the EU's External Negotiations

Vigjilenca Abazi, Johan Adriaensen

Confidential EU negotiations are increasingly challenged by the three branches of oversight: judicial, parliamentary and administrative. Court cases, (threats of) parliamentary vetoes and the own initiative inquires of the European Ombudsman have reduced the negotiator's discretion in handling sensitive information. Seemingly allies in transparency, this paper questions whether all branches have a common objective in their pursuit of transparency. Simultaneously, access to sensitive information provides an edge in inter-institutional struggles. Information is power. It is therefore impossible to disentangle debates on transparency from the institutional balance of powers. This paper will shed new light on the interplay between the institutions and their quest for transparency through an exhaustive analysis of the role and interplay of oversight actors in international agreements in the post-Lisbon era. It critically questions whether indeed the law and limits to secrecy in negotiations are changing or whether politics remain the usual tug-of-war.

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